Efficient transport of tropospheric aerosol into the stratosphere via the Asian summer monsoon anticyclone [Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences]
An enhanced aerosol layer near the tropopause over Asia during the June–September period of the Asian summer monsoon (ASM) was recently identified using satellite observations. Its sources and climate impact are presently not well-characterized. To improve understanding of this phenomenon, we made in situ aerosol measurements during summer 2015 from Kunming, China, then followed with a modeling study to assess the global significance. The in situ measurements revealed a robust enhancement in aerosol concentration that extended up to 2 km above the tropopause. A climate model simulation demonstrates that the abundant anthropogenic aerosol precursor emissions from Asia coupled with rapid vertical transport associated with monsoon convection leads to significant particle formation in the upper troposphere within the ASM anticyclone. These particles subsequently spread throughout the entire Northern Hemispheric (NH) lower stratosphere and contribute significantly (∼15%) to the NH stratospheric column aerosol surface area on an annual basis. This contribution is comparable to that from the sum of small volcanic eruptions in the period between 2000 and 2015. Although the ASM contribution is smaller than that from tropical upwelling (∼35%), we find that this region is about three times as efficient per unit area and time in populating the NH stratosphere with aerosol. With a substantial amount of organic and sulfur emissions in Asia, the ASM anticyclone serves as an efficient smokestack venting aerosols to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. As economic growth continues in Asia, the relative importance of Asian emissions to stratospheric aerosol is likely to increase.
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